Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Chicago Latino Film Festival comes to NU to educate students of Latino culture

Joshua Sukoff/The Daily Northwestern
Rick Tejada-Flores, a producer of the documentary “Water for Life,” answered questions from the audience in a Q&A following the film.

The Chicago Latino Film Festival is bringing Latin American culture to Northwestern through film in a two-day event Tuesday and Thursday.

The film festival is a 40-year-old Chicago-based tradition that introduces new voices of Ibero-American cinema, documenting the history of its artform and encouraging cultural expression in a weeklong downtown event.

Its influence spread to NU in 2018, when the Department of Spanish and Portuguese contacted the festival. This is the second time the festival has been held at the University following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and financial reasons.

The department introduced the festival to campus to provide an event for those interested in Spanish culture, said Spanish Prof. Reyes Morán, a committee member of the NU initiative.

They’ve also found connections between the films and the department’s curriculum.

“It ties nicely with a lot of our curriculum,” committee member and Spanish Prof. César Enrique Hoyos Álvarez said. “So it’s a way for students to also see how these films are somewhat related or tied to the topics that they go over in class.”

The movies featured at NU are the documentary “Water for Life” and the drama “Allà, cartas al corazón.” These are a “rare” selection that viewers will not be able to see elsewhere, committee member and faculty lecturer Isabella Vergara Calderon said.

The NU committee selected the two out of the festival’s 50 feature films and 35 short films they thought would be best received on campus, Calderon said.

“They ask us to pick two films that best resonate with our students on campus and also the community outside of campus and connect both spaces together,” she said.

But the festival cannot come to campus each year, and the committee is unsure if NU will host it in 2025, Calderon said.

The department’s ability to host the festival depends on their budget to buy film rights and venue availability, Calderon said.

Fundraising is a significant factor in paying for the films, and there is a collaborative effort among various organizations to fund the festival, including the radio, television and film department, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, the Language Resource Center and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

The festival isn’t limited to Spanish students at NU. The intention was to open it to the community and whoever wanted to learn more about the films and the themes within them, Hoyos Álvarez said, and Tuesday’s film attracted around 30 people.

“Water for Life” told the story of three individuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Chile who refused to let government-supported industries and transnational corporations take their water. Following the film, producer Rick Tejada-Flores participated in a Q&A event.

Evanston resident Mary Lucas attended the Tuesday film with her husband Isidro Lucas, a former Chicago Latino Film Festival board member. Mary Lucas said she loved the film and thought the photography was “outstanding.”

Isidro Lucas agreed.

“It was very, very good,” he said. “The pace is great, the personalities are played up and the images are extremely compelling.”

The festival will feature Mexican drama “Allà, cartas al corazón” on Thursday in Lutkin Hall at 5:30 p.m., with opening remarks from the director, Montserrat Larqué, and a closing reception.

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